dear friends: THEY or GTFO! (or: going public as not putting up with shit anymore)
(inspired by the spot-on article, dear diary: am i genderqueer enough?)
i need to talk about preferred gender pronouns (PGPs) - specifically, mine. not only because i am approaching the one-year mark of being publicly they, but largely because i still have folks in my life that i am constantly correcting for misgendering me, and… i am just about over it.
as mentioned, i have been identifying as they for almost a year now to my friends and a few members of my family. so many people have been 100% supportive and awesome! props to them! but there are a handful of folks very dear to me that just keep she/her-ing me on the regular. i can attribute these perma-fuckups to two possible things going on:
1) you think of me as female.
2) you really don’t care.
so, up until very recently, i was finding myself carrying around a lot of guilt whenever i called out a friend for misgendering me, as i felt like i should “cut them slack” because of our friendship. however, this entire thought process was blown up last week when i was home in rochester for a visit. my friend’s five year-old, anouk, corrected herself for misgendering me after being told my PGP once, and used they with no problem afterwards.
anouk didn’t have a problem using my PGP or correcting herself when she misused it, because to her, this is just a thing about me that she knows, and something she believed without question. “just like you are she, and that person is he, little jess is they” and that was it. (in a perfect world, everyone in my life would just take my PGP at face-value, like my eye color - or even my queer identity, which no one i know has any problems with(!!))
a trend that has been extremely pervasive among some of my peers: the defense of “being used to” binary pronouns and therefore not using mine. no! that is not a thing, because of reasons: you have been used to a lot of things in your life that have changed. look how you adjusted to those changes! here’s a fucking cookie. no, i lied. but here are examples:
1) your friend tells you that they really want to start working out, but they suck at sticking to it and want your help: you are a good friend and remind them, or maybe you even go to the gym with them, etc.
2) your friend makes an important life choice, like not drinking anymore: you are a good friend and don’t ask them to go to the bar all the time, and you don’t get drunk around them.
3) your friend is sad about a breakup and doesn’t want to talk about it right now: you are a good friend and consciously do not bring it up with them until they are ready to talk.
while all obviously unique scenarios, all of these involve basic processing, awareness, and human empathy. PGPs are absolutely no different: when someone you love asks you to respect something about their identity, you fucking DO IT.
okay, so you are a cisgender person with a transgender friend that you just can’t seem to stop misgendering. what now?! how about actually sitting down for more than a few seconds and processing why it’s so difficult to think outside a binary. ahh, you’ve found that you actually don’t know too much about trans* people, right? how about, then, instead of brushing it off and continuing to make someone you love totes uncomfortable all the time, you ask your trans* friend some stuff! find out about trans* people! read about pronouns! you already know gender binaries are fucked up, you’re halfway there!! …seriously, i’d be so happy if people just wanted to know, and asked questions, instead of acting like they give no fucks, over-apologizing all the time, and never changing their behavior.
another helpful thing for allies to do is staying consistent with pronouns. as in, when you talk about me when i’m not there, use my PGP. when you think about me (wink, wink… no, j/k. creeps!) use my PGP. that way, when you’re addressing me directly, you’ll use my PGP! it really works! try it today for free.
and finally, my nearest and dearest friends, don’t do it “for” me just because i am your friend. i guarantee you, this mindset will only fail you, though your heart is in a good place. besides, i am not the only trans* person you will know in your life. PGPs are something that many cisgender folks have the privilege of not having to take seriously, and that needs to be called out, so check yourself when you get called out, and call other people out on their shit! remember that asking (not assuming!) PGPs, and respecting them - mine and everyone else’s - is benefiting a lot of people.
with love and respect,
little jess (they, them, their/s)
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